Sunday, November 06, 2022

Thinking Out Loud: Our Wives Under the Sea

 


Well, this one is strange. I love the premise, and the writing is excellent, but it turns out that the book is mediocre to the point that I only rate it three stars out of five. Our Wives Under the Sea is only 223 pages long, but it still took a concentrated push to get me through the last 50 pages or so. 

The premise: A marine biologist leaves on what should be a routine expedition only to find herself and two crew members trapped for five months on the ocean floor in a malfunctioning submarine. When she is finally able to return to her wife, it quickly becomes apparent that the scientist is suffering from a severe case of PTS. But it's when the physical changes start to take place, that her wife reluctantly starts looking for real answers - answers that will frustrate and terrify her. 

Great hook, right?

And the writing is just excellent, right from this opening sentence:

The deep sea is a haunted house: a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness.

This perfectly places the reader in the setting, and is spookily intriguing enough to get them to keep reading.

So why then did I find it to be an overall mediocre novel? It may be because of my personal quirk about never feeling quite satisfied by open-ended novels, the kind that leave you screaming for answers and explanations even after you've turned the final page. That's the way I felt after turning page 223 of Our Wives Under the Sea. Julia Armfield, however, is such a good writer that I'm going to try to find her first novel in hopes that it didn't end quite as foggily as this one did. 

This, I think, is the British cover (Armfield is English), and I much prefer it to the US cover:


8 comments:

  1. That is a great opening line. But I do like a more satisfying ending in books; one that wraps up the story and ties up the loose ends.

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    1. Me, too. I always feel as if I'm doing half the work when an author leaves everything open-ended.

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  2. Yes I read this one too. And while I was not fully engaged with it at the beginning, I became gripped towards the end. It's all rather mysterious but I think I was okay that it wasn't fully explained or resolved. I wanted answers though I sort of surmised or accepted what had happened. Something spooky or creepy. Here's my thoughts about it: https://www.thecuecard.com/books/blowing-steam/

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    1. That's a good review. I agree with you that the book has a lot to say about love and relationships, and really, my big distraction is that ending. Things just kept getting creepier and creepier, and I really wanted to know what caused the drastic changes involved.

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  3. That strange title and cover would have put me off trying to read that one. Sorry it was disappointing.

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    1. I seldom (maybe never) come away from novels where I have to assume my own ending with a good feeling about them. I doubt that will ever change for me.

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  4. For some reason my Blogger reading list is not listing your posts, Sam. I noticed it last time you did a monthly recap post and posted about it on Twitter, the post was not on my reading list. I made a mental note to check your blog periodiclally for new posts and then promptly forgot. Apologies! Because I clearly missed this one. Like you I do not like an open-ended end to a book. Why should I have to spend time deciding how the book should end. I'm not being paid to do that. LOL!

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    1. Exactly right, Cath. And the open-ended books always leave me feeling a little dumb about not seeing an obvious, implied ending. I enjoy reading between-the-lines during the novel, but I deplore being asked to do that at the conclusion.

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